Craft & Design
In the Maker Shed: ShapeLock

ShapeLock
ShapeLock is a super tough, space age plastic that can be hand molded by simply heating it in hot water. It’s completely non-toxic and can be reused indefinitely. When cool, this lightweight material can be drilled, machined, and even painted with acrylic paints. Shapelock is available in both 250 gram and 500 gram bags in the Maker Shed.

22 thoughts on “In the Maker Shed: ShapeLock

  1. I use it to fix broken laptop cables… make the joints stronger – but unless there’s a tutorial somewhere describing how to use this stuff… it is incredibly hard to use. It doesn’t work like plasticine for example… if you try to wrap a blob around the end of a pencil (for example) instead of squishing tighter, the hole around the pencil gets looser and looser… but then shrinks when it gets cold.

    1. Another pointer – it’ll only stick to itself properly when it’s heated well into being clear. As it cools off it’ll start to turn white again, the cold joint you get at that point will be weak.

      Hot shapelock will stick to some plastics like crazy, so you can’t just mold it against anything willy-nilly. Test, or work with a barrier if you want to keep your model shape safe.

      One of my happier projects was to make replacement toppers for glue and RTV tubes. The regular toppers tend to split around me, but a big lump of plastic molded against a new tube can seal just as well. Don’t go all the way down to the tube body, so you have room to really screw that sucker down.

  2. While this stuff is great fun, it can’t be used “indefinitely”. As a matter of fact, over time, it becomes more and more brittle. I used the “Friendly Plastic” brand of this stuff in the late 80’s-early 90’s, and all of the parts I made have since broken to rubble. And the unused Friendly Plastic pellets no longer soften to a useable state, it just turns into weird flakes. (If anyone wants proof, I’ll send you some).

    So, yes, it’s really cool to quickly prototype with, and mess around with, but don’t make anything you intend to be permanent or under stress for long.

    1. Oh, thanks for the tip! I’ve been having fun with this stuff for about 5 years, and haven’t ran into the issue, but it’s nice to know that it can “expire” at some point and stop working.

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Launched originally as a source for back issues of MAKE Magazine, the Maker Shed expanded rapidly to meet the demand for 'projects in a box,' otherwise known as kits. Now we have a little bit of everything for makers, crafters, and budding scientists, from Arduinos to sock monkeys to chemistry sets .

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